Michigan welcomes Long Beach State to the Crisler Center tonight (7:00 p.m., BTN-Plus) for its final test before next week’s Battle 4 Atlantis.
Former Gonzaga and Minnesota head coach Dan Monson has been at Long Beach State for a decade and a half now and runs one of the more stable mid-major programs on the West Coast. The Beach has been consistently solid albeit unspectacular with an average KenPom finish of 172nd since Monson was hired in 2008, but with only one NCAA Tournament appearance (2012).
Two years ago, LBSU won the Big West and was a basket short of the NCAA Tournament. Last year’s group was expected to build on that finish but underachieved and finished 11-9 in the league. This year’s team was picked to finish 2nd in the Big West by The Almanac and has one of the more talented rosters in the Big West — a league that already has a pair of wins over high-major opponents this year.
It feels like we’ve been hyping up Michigan’s buy game opponents this season, but Long Beach State is ranked even higher (124th) than Michigan’s first two home opponents, and already won at DePaul last weekend. The Beach fell on the road at Portland (78-73) and San Diego State (88-76) but should pose a unique test for a Michigan team coming off of a big win on Monday.